Filmmakers and Insurance: What Moves You

Posted by Casey Budden on Nov 5, 2018 11:59:13 AM

 

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What Moves You?

More than 100 years after their invention, “moving pictures” still seem to command our collective imagination. We often have very personal emotional attachments to movies: we say that certain films inspired us, moved us, shaped our childhood, shocked us, or opened our minds.

What is unique about the medium of film? What explains this continuing fascination despite all the other technological delectations our age offers up? Is it because film promises us a total escape from the everyday? Provides deep insight into the human condition? Or is it simply good entertainment?

Probably, it’s all of the above. 2017’s total box office results were the highest in history, with over $39 billion in takings worldwide despite the fact that public attention is more divided than ever, with video games, streaming services, and downloads all vying for a slice of their entertainment dollars. Clearly, movies aren’t going anywhere.

What is changing is the way content is delivered. Creators are both rapidly influencing, and being influenced by, new technologies. This is not anything new: the history of film is one of periodic disruption followed by renewal in response to the changing tastes of audiences.

Early “talkies,” which began to appear in the mid-to-late 1920s, were often compared uncharitably to earlier, silent films. Critics often felt that the spoken dialogue made for tawdry, artistically inferior pictures. Audiences loved them, however, and by the early 1930s, the majority of films were being produced with sound.

Starting around the same time and lasting until the late 1940s was the Hollywood “studio system”—a system of production characterized by complete vertical integration of the production process. The studio system totally dominated filmmaking during this period. Studios “owned” talent, cast was repertory, and filming was done mainly on elaborate sets or backlots rather than on location. Props and sets were also frequently recycled through various productions. Many venues were owned by studios, who could thus control when, where, and for how long a film screened. Theatres that were not studio-owned were subject to a practice called “block booking” in which they were required to take on and screen entire slates of lesser-quality films from a studio in order to obtain screening rights to a single anticipated hit. (This is where the term “B movie” comes from).

As might be expected, this arrangement provided steady and reliable revenue for the studios. The big stars of the time were household names. Studios were nicknamed “Dream Factories” due to their ability to quickly churn out genre favorites—westerns, musicals, romances. Fantasy and spectacle were favored over realism, and audiences gobbled them up. But new technology was already sowing the seeds of change: the rapidly growing popularity of television, as well as a landmark antitrust case in 1948 which forbade studios from owning movie theatres and curtailed the practice of block booking, placed the film business on shaky ground by mid-century. The severe slump which ensued was not truly reversed until 1972, the year The Godfather was released.

The collapse of the studio system was both good and bad. As major studios were no longer guaranteed a theatrical release for their films, they became more risk-averse, tending to focus on properties they knew would make money. On the other hand, the proliferation of smaller studios and the uncoupling of distribution from production allowed many up-and-coming directors to make their mark. The 1970s ushered in the emergence of a raft of American auteur directors—Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, and Stanley Kubrick among them. These directors were influenced by European art-house cinema of the 50s and 60s and approached filmmaking with a markedly different aesthetic. Their films featured greater realism and frequently controversial subject matter. Like their European contemporaries from decades past, more scenes were shot on location. Dialogue was less frequently dubbed. Increased emphasis was placed on characterization and dialogue.

Simultaneously, and progressing in a completely opposite artistic direction, another trend was taking shape: the “Hollywood blockbuster.” Designed to maximize ticket sales for large studios, these films featured larger-than-life spectacle and action, supported by cutting-edge technology and special effects. Star Wars (1977) represents the most obvious example of this phenomenon. Audiences flocked to the cinema for the first time in decades to be part of an experience they could not replicate with equipment available at home. The modern action-adventure spectacle was born (and continues, in the guise of the ubiquitous superhero movie).

The 1980s accelerated these changes in filmmaking. Major studios could no longer afford to back a loser, so often doubled down on grand special-effects laden productions that audiences would be guaranteed to love, or else reliable franchises such as Rocky, Rambo, Indiana Jones, Friday the 13th,, A Nightmare on Elm Street, etc. The advent of home video technologies such as VHS and Betamax meant that a significant proportion of a film’s income now came not from box office, but home video revenues. This further opened up the playing field, as it was now economically viable for a small independent producer to market their film “direct-to-video” and make a profit.

Cut to the present day where, in addition to the multiplex, you can now watch a film on your phone, tablet, smart TV, portable music player, or game console. Streaming services are the latest disruptive innovation and have changed the way episodic TV content, for example, is presented (no more “previously on…” and no more commercials). It’s arguably never been easier for a creator to get their work out there.

Audiences flocked to the “dream factories” of the Golden Age of Cinema because there’s no magic like film magic. This hasn’t changed, and we don’t think it ever will. Film is the only medium that addresses has the ability to inspire both our intellects and our hearts while completely engaging our senses.

At Front Row Insurance, we are “Passionate about the arts…better at insurance.” We love creatives and the creative work that they do. That’s what moves us. What moves you? Whatever it is, we probably have a policy that will suit you. Contact us.

Tags: pre production insurance for filmmakers, film school insurance, educational film production insurance, insurance for film set, Film Extra Expense, Studnet Film Insurance, Film Location Insurance, Public Liability Insurance for Film, Film E&O, Film and entertainment insurance

Multimedia Insurance Coverage

Posted by David McLeish on Oct 27, 2018 3:05:00 PM

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Thanks to the Internet, Everyone Has Seen your Movie.

Your intrepid film managed to weather the entire production process without any hiccups—bravo! Now that the theatrical run is over, it’s time to bequeath the film to posterity in the form of home video and TV rebroadcasts. Safe enough, right?

In fact, the “tail” of a movie’s lifespan is no less exposed to potential claims than any other phase. As the film is released to home video and dissected on the internet, every scene and every word of dialogue will be scrutinized. As more sets of eyes see your film, the likelihood of a nuisance lawsuit unfortunately increases. For example:

  • Unauthorized use of logos can elicit legal action from the corporations that own them
  • Inclusion of identifiable faces in crowd scenes can prompt legal action
  • Misappropriation of name or likeness can cause a lawsuit to be brought

Multimedia risk insurance (or “Producer’s Errors & Omissions [‘E&O’] Coverage) offers protection against these kinds of lawsuits, including alleged unauthorized use of titles, formats, ideas, characters, plots, plagiarism, unfair competition or privacy, and breach of contract. Distributors normally require that this coverage be in place prior to distribution simply because of the myriad of unpredictable risks a film can face in the distribution phase.

As a filmmaker, you want to be able to focus on doing just that—making films. Wouldn’t you like to rest easy once you’re finished? Ensure your production is protected from the idea phase to the home video phase so you can concentrate on what you do best.

Contact us – we can help.

Tags: Multimedia Risk Insurance, Multimendia Risk, TV and Film Producers E&O Insurance cost, HD E&O, Producers Errors and Omissions Insurance, Producers Errors & Omissions Liability Insurance

E&O Film Insurance Protects Against Invasion of Privacy and False Light Accusations

Posted by Casey Budden on Oct 26, 2018 7:10:24 AM

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Ready for Prime Time: RELEASING AND Broadcasting your Finished Film

You’ve made it! After much hard work, your film is finished and being widely screened in theatres. Audiences love it, and very positive reviews have appeared in several notable publications. Pride and excitement are the order of the day as everyone involved enjoys the fruits of their labor. Extreme care was taken in the production, so you’re shocked when you’re informed that a lawsuit has been brought against you for invasion of privacy.

Invasion of privacy is a serious risk to which filmmakers are exposed, and it’s difficult to anticipate all possible sources of legal action.

Imagine this scenario:

Your movie is an adaptation of a well-known book—let’s say, a roman a clef about a Canadian rail disaster. Due to the length of the book and the demands of the feature film format, some artistic license necessarily had to be taken and the book was heavily adapted from the original. This is not unusual, but unfortunately an actual person recognized himself in one of your characters and took serious issue with the way he was depicted.

Claims of this sort are fairly common and fall under the rubric of “false light” accusations. The typical argument is that a specific characterization is unflattering and transparent enough that the average member of the public can easily deduce who it is based upon. In other words, the party in question has been presented “in a false light.”

Let’s also consider a second scenario:

Your film is a documentary about the Canadian boxing world. You’re very careful about securing releases from all parties discussed in your film and all recognizable persons who appear in the background. You’re confident that you’ve taken all necessary precautions, but you still receive notice that one of the fighters discussed has initiated a lawsuit against you for public disclosure of embarrassing facts. While your depiction was accurate, your film included some discussion of the fighter’s life after the boxing world and went into detail about a failed business venture. The party concerned considers this information embarrassing and not relevant to the subject of the documentary.

What can be done?

Generally, claims of invasion of privacy are more successful if the plaintiff can argue that:

  • The subject matter would be highly offensive to a reasonable person
  • The information is not of legitimate concern to the public (i.e., the information is not newsworthy).

It’s obvious that these terms are highly subjective. What constitutes “highly offensive?” Who is this fabled “reasonable person?” And what exactly is of “legitimate concern” to the public? Even when extreme care has been used, a lawsuit is sometimes unavoidable.

A Producers’ Errors & Omissions (E&O) Insurance Policy Is The Best Protection.

The last thing you want is to face a costly lawsuit after your film has already been released. An Errors & Omissions policy protects the entire lifespan of your project against situations such as the above, by helping arrange a legal defense against:

  • Allegations of unauthorized use of titles, formats, ideas, characters, plots, plagiarism
  • Allegations of libel, slander, and defamation of character
  • Allegations of invasion of privacy

Contact us for more information.

Tags: false light and E and O, invasion of privacy and filming, E&O Policy for producers, E&O copyright report, Film E&O, title clearance, media liability insurance policy, Producers Errors and Omissions Insurance, HD E&O, Producers E&O Insurance, Producers Errors & Omissions Liability Insurance, Multimendia Risk

Fair Use Misconceptions and Filmmaker E&O Insurance Part II

Posted by Casey Budden on Oct 24, 2018 12:52:59 PM

 

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FAIR GAME? - A FAIR USE PRIMER FOR DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKERS (Part 2)

Not all uses of copyrighted material in your documentary will require you to obtain permission from the copyright holder. If you can argue that your use of the material in question meets the criteria to be considered fair use, it may be acceptable.

However, you’re still not sure how to figure out if your chosen use of the material will pass the test or not; there’s still a lot of grey area. Below, we will attempt to shed some light on some common misconceptions about fair use.

  • If I only use a few seconds of the underlying work, I should be okay.” The logic behind this is easy to follow and, as discussed in our previous article, there is some truth to it. The more you borrow from a previous creator, the more likely a lawsuit—it’s more likely the rights holder will take notice, and more likely that they’ll feel their commercial interests have been impaired. However, the proportion of the original work that is used is just one of a myriad of factors a judge would consider in the event of a copyright dispute.

 

  • “I got it from the Internet, so it should be free to use.” This misconception is less common than it used to be, but still exists. In its early days, the Internet was thought of as a kind of “Wild West” where the traditional legal frameworks didn’t necessarily apply. Today, as the Web becomes more sophisticated and ubiquitous, we know that’s no longer true. The general legal understanding now is that the moment a work is fixed in a particular creative medium, copyright exists. For example, technically speaking, a copyright exists the moment a person takes a photograph. For that reason, when making use of copyrighted material from the internet, the documentary filmmaker must exercise a level of care equivalent to that used when considering the use of any other type of copyrighted material.

 

  • “I’m using copyrighted material, but it’s okay because I gave credit to the author.” It may seem like this is just common sense—how could anyone claim that you’ve ripped off their work if you openly attribute it to them? In reality, this is not an automatic defense. In fact, a court of law could argue that by giving credit to the author, you are implicitly acknowledging that the material in question belongs to them. Without knowing it, you may also be tacitly validating their claim of ownership (and potentially their claim of infringement). This is not to say that giving credit to the owners of copyrighted material is not the right thing to do (it is), just that doing so in itself is not a complete defense against claims of copyright infringement.

 

  • “I need to ask permission from the copyright holder first.” Referring back to #3 above, you’ll recall that a rights holder might actually interpret your request for permission, in itself, as a sign that infringement has taken place (“if you’re asking me for permission, you already know you don’t have the right to use it”). Another perfectly logical assumption that does not necessarily hold in the complicated landscape of copyright issues. If your use of the copyrighted material in question already falls within the definition of fair use, you are not required to obtain permission from the rights holder first.

Sound complicated? It is. As we’ve shown, although the law does provide some latitude for documentary filmmakers to use copyrighted materials in a new creative work, there are a lot of issues to consider. An understanding of fair use is an invaluable tool for the documentary filmmaker, but is not sufficient to keep your production safe. You’ll also need an errors & omissions (E&O) policy which will ensure you’re covered in the event that you missed something. Contact us.

Tags: Fair Use for Documentaries, Fair Use Doctrine, E&O Policy for producers, producers errors and omissions policy, producers e and o insurance quote

Fair Use and E&O Insurance for Filmmakers - Part 1

Posted by Casey Budden on Oct 24, 2018 12:48:02 PM

 

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FAIR GAME? - A FAIR USE PRIMER FOR DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKERS (Part 1)

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” –Isaac Newton

As a documentary filmmaker, you’ll likely need to make use of copyrighted materials at some point in your production. Indeed, it’s almost impossible to avoid: film clips, music and archival interviews are indispensable tools for lending depth, color and authority to your production. However, securing the rights to such materials can be difficult, prohibitively expensive and, most importantly, fraught with potential danger if the rights holders feel that their copyright has been infringed.

For example: you’re making a documentary about Hammer Horror films of the ‘50s and you use a short clip of Christopher Lee baring his fangs. You haven’t obtained permission. Will you be sued?

The legal doctrine of Fair Use permits creators a degree of freedom to incorporate copyrighted works of others into a new creative work. The law recognizes that the rights of copyright holders to enjoy the profits of their creations must be balanced with the rights of creators to enjoy freedom of expression and build upon past works in the creation of their own.

The problem that can sometimes occur is that it can be very difficult to define what constitutes fair use, and rights holders can be aggressive in defending their copyright.

Navigating fair use can be a challenging proposition. It is particularly important to the documentary filmmaker due to the fact that documentarians usually need to use more copyrighted material than, say, the director of a period piece.

There are two important things that you can do as a documentary filmmaker to keep your production safe: understand Fair Use, and purchase Errors & Omissions Insurance. The first will help you avoid being sued; the second will help protect you if you are.

Understanding Fair Use

You want to use a short clip of music or film in your documentary. You might have a limited budget. Traditional wisdom dictates that every piece of copyrighted material needs to be cleared and paid for, but this may not be the case if you can argue that your use of the clip in question constitutes Fair Use. How do judges determine if the use of a given clip is Fair Use in any given situation? The following criteria are considered.

  • What purpose the material is used for. Courts generally hold that a use of copyrighted material which is “transformative” meets the criteria to be considered Fair Use. “Transformative” means that the material is made part of a new creative work, for a purpose and context which are different than the original.
  • The nature of the source material. Factual, non-fiction source material which was created for an academic or educational purpose, with the intention of being strictly informative in nature, is less likely to give rise to a copyright claim if it is presented appropriately.
  • How much of the source material was used. The more of the original work is used, the more likely a lawsuit becomes. For example, musicians are more likely to encounter a problem using a lengthy musical phrase copied from a prior artist than they would be using a single breakbeat or horn blast which may no longer be recognizable as part of a prior creative work.
  • How the use of the source material impacts its value. If the rights holder can argue that their profits, potential profits or the integrity of their brand have been impaired by another’s use of their material, it may provide grounds for litigation. For example, a documentarian making a film about Miles Davis might get away with showing a brief clip of Miles playing, but reproducing an entire 15-minute live performance of him is likely going to attract a lawsuit.

 

Armed with this information, you might think that these rules are just common sense, and with an abundance of caution a prudent filmmaker might be able to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit. However, the reality is not so simple. The second part of this article will discuss some common fair use misconceptions.

Tags: E&O Insurance for producers, producers errors and omissions quote, media liability insurance policy, Digital E&O insurance, Fair Use for Documentaries

Event Planning Insurance

Posted by Monica Krake on Oct 24, 2018 10:44:51 AM

 

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 Planning an event? 5 insurance tips you need to know

Planning an event? Whether you’re getting ready for a gallery opening, organizing a neighborhood rummage sale, or putting on a craft show, you’ll need to make sure you have the right insurance in place to protect your event and yourself in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

Though you probably expect everything to go off without a hitch, the fact is, when it comes to planning an event, things do sometimes go sideways and it’s important to put the necessary precautions in place.

Here are several factors to consider, to ensure you have the right coverage for your event:

  1. Does the venue you’re renting require insurance? Venues will usually specify the level of coverage you’re required to have if it’s not covered in your rental agreement. If you’re hosting your event in a public space, or on municipal property, you’ll want to make sure you have the necessary permits to demonstrate you have obtained event liability insurance, to the amount required.
  2. Will one of your vendors be a no-show? If you’re renting tables, chairs, or a tent for your event, you want to be sure you’re covered in the case of a vendor no-show, or any damage to your rentals.
  3. What if you need to cancel the event? Could be weather or illness related, or due to a mix up of some kind; whatever the case, event liability insurance protects you from having to pay all the event-related expenses you’ve incurred.
  4. Are you responsible to insure the equipment you have rented? Take time to read the fine print in those rental contracts. You’ll want to be sure you’re covered.
  5. Planning to serve wine or cocktails at your event? If you are serving alcohol, try to hire a caterer to serve the drinks. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase one day liquor liability insurance.

If you still have questions about the level of insurance you’ll need for your one-day event, please get in touch! To get a quote online, in only 3 minutes click here!

Tags: art school insurance, fine art school insurance, adult party insurance, party insurance, short term event insurance, event liability, cheap event insurance, event liability insurance, event insurance, Special Event Insurance

Insurance for Theft of Camera and Film equipment

Posted by Casey Budden on Oct 24, 2018 10:43:17 AM

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Action!

You’ve finally gotten to the meat of the production: the principal photography phase. Much of the busywork is done; now for the fun part!

Unfortunately, as it so often does, disaster strikes at the worst time: a rented vehicle used in the production is stolen from the set. Worse, it contained an expensive piece of camera equipment (also rented). The vehicle is quickly recovered, but the camera equipment is nowhere to be found and there is damage to the vehicle. The cost of your production is suddenly mounting very quickly.

Could this have been prevented?

A commercial vehicle physical damage policy covers accidents mentioned above.

You’ll also want to ensure your production has production equipment insurance, which covers you against physical loss of or damage to, or destruction of, cameras, sound, lighting and grip equipment which are owned or rented by the production company.

A film production is a complex animal; you want the process to be as seamless as possible. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one less thing to think about?

Ensure that your production is adequately covered so that you can concentrate on filmmaking rather than financing.

Tags: CAMÉRAS, camera equipment insurance policy, online camera Insurance, Camera Insurance Broker, Camera Equipment Insurance, Camera Insurance, Film equipment rental insurance

Camera and Film Processing Insurance

Posted by Casey Budden on Oct 24, 2018 10:30:32 AM
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Put the Finishing Touches on your Film Without Worry.

Congratulations! Principal photography on your production is complete and so far, everything has gone off without a hitch. You’ve managed to remain on budget, and footage was delivered to the post facility on time. While you understand that editing is both an art and a science, the cut of the film you got back was not what you were looking for. Instead of seamless edits, you got jump cuts!

While faulty editing is a problem that will cost your production time and money, it’s not the most serious risk you face at this stage. Let’s consider a second scenario.

Imagine you’re making a documentary about jazz. Your sound engineer composes an original piece to be used as background music in a scene. All is well and good until a famous jazz musician sues for copyright infringement, claiming that the music is too similar to a well-known piece of theirs. While you know the case would be won in court, the associated delay and cost would harm your production.

Your film is slated to be broadcast in a matter of months, and the clock is ticking.

The best defense against unforeseen perils such as the above is a specialized insurance policy designed to protect you, the filmmaker.

 Entertainment Package Policy includes:

1. Faulty Stock, Camera, & Processing insurance.

Faulty Stock, Camera & Processing insurance provides protection against:

  • Loss, damage or destruction of raw film or tape stock, exposed film (developed or undeveloped), recorded video tape, sound tracks and tapes, caused by or resulting from fogging or the use of faulty equipment (including cameras and videotape recorders).
  • Faulty sound equipment
  • Faulty developing
  • Faulty editing and faulty processing
  • Accidental erasure of videotape recording

But does not cover: Loss caused by errors of judgment in exposure, lighting or sound recording, or from the use of incorrect type of camera, lens, raw film or tape stock.

2. Commercial General Liability.

This is a standard liability coverage included in entertainment package policies which will arrange a defense if you are sued for reasons connected with your production, regardless of whether the suit has any merit. Returning to the example above involving music, this coverage would prevent you from having to pay for legal defense costs out of pocket.

You’ve come too far to let unforeseen circumstances put you behind.

Make sure you have the right insurance coverage.

Tags: camera equipment insurance policy, Camera Insurance Broker, Camera Insurance, CAMÉRAS, online camera Insurance, Camera Equipment Insurance

Planning an event? 5 insurance tips you need to know

Posted by David Hamilton on Oct 12, 2018 3:42:14 PM

Concert dinner picPlanning an event? Whether you’re getting ready for a gallery opening, organizing a neighborhood rummage sale, or putting on a craft show, you’ll need to make sure you have the right insurance in place to protect your event and yourself in case of any unforeseen circumstances. Though you probably expect everything to go off without a hitch, the fact is, when it comes to planning an event, things do sometimes go sideways and it’s important to put the necessary precautions in place. Here are several factors to consider, to ensure you have the right coverage for your event:

 

  1. Does the venue you’re renting require insurance? Venues will usually specify the level of coverage you’re required to have if it’s not covered in your rental agreement. If you’re hosting your event in a public space, or on municipal property, you’ll want to make sure you have the necessary permits to demonstrate you have obtained event liability insurance, to the amount required.
  2. Will one of your vendors be a no-show? If you’re renting tables, chairs, or a tent for your event, you want to be sure you’re covered in the case of a vendor no-show, or any damage to your rentals.
  3. What if you need to cancel the event? Could be weather or illness related, or due to a mix up of some kind; whatever the case, event liability insurance protects you from having to pay all the event-related expenses you’ve incurred.
  4. Are you responsible to insure the equipment you have rented? Take time to read the fine print in those rental contracts. You’ll want to be sure you’re covered.
  5. Planning to serve wine or cocktails at your event? If you are serving alcohol, try to hire a caterer to serve the drinks. Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase one day liquor liability insurance.

 

If you still have questions about the level of insurance you’ll need for your one-day event, please get in touch! To get a quote online, in only 3 minutes click here!

 

Tags: one day event liability, short term, online adults birthday party insurance, party insurance, holiday party, party at a local park, short term event insurance

Pre-Production Insurance for Filmmakers

Posted by David Hamilton on Oct 2, 2018 2:35:17 PM

 

Keep a Minor Pratfall from Becoming Your Downfall.

Ah, pre-production. You’re one small step closer to getting your project in the can! Your script treatments are finished, crew hired, and cast chosen. You’re ready to get started building sets, designing costumes, and planning your shooting schedule. Normally this is not the stage of the game where things go wrong, but let’s consider a couple of scenarios where something does:

  • A large set piece falls over and will need repair or replacement. It was needed in a key scene.
  • A pipe bursts in your production office and important documents are water-damaged.

A film producer’s risk policy (also called an “Entertainment Package Policy”), includes a number of coverages which protect you against situations like the above. These coverages include:

Extra Expense Insurance.

This is a type of business interruption coverage which covers you for delays caused by loss or damage to property or facilities used in connection with the production. In example #1 above, it would compensate you for the additional cost and time of replacing the damaged set piece.

Office Contents

This coverage offers protection against damage or loss to the contents of your production office, including but not limited to:

  • Furniture
  • Equipment
  • Fixtures
  • Improvements & betterments
  • Valuable Papers and Records (e.g., written film tape, disc, drum, cell, printed or otherwise inscribed documents and records including books, maps, abstracts, deeds, manuscripts or other magnetic recording or storage media).

Ensuring you have the right coverage for your production will provide peace of mind and allow you to focus on what’s important—making your film. Contact us today.

Tags: Film Production Insurance, pre production insurance for filmmakers

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